|Alfred "Coach" Powell|
Alfred "Coach" Powell has been dubbed "The Dean of Street Psychology", and is the author of "Message N/A Bottle: The 40oz Scandal" (vol. 1 & 2) and "Hip Hop Hypocrisy: When Lies Sound Like the Truth". He has made no secret of his disgust with the marketing surrounding 40oz malt liquor. His credentials include:
Bruz: Let's jump right into it. Explain to us what it is you have against 40oz malt liquor.
Alfred "Coach" Powell: In principal, nothing. I have no problem with it being advertised toward adults. I have a problem with the predatory marketing schemes aimed at African Americans and other youth. When alcohol is marketed to children and when marketing crosses the line of cultural insensitivity, then someone must respond. As a fighter for racial justice and equality for all, I found it necessary to fight back.
B: How did it all begin - did alcohol marketing affect you personally growing up in some way, or did your ideals simply originate from what you have observed taking place all around you over the years?
ACP: Like many, I come from a family that has had its share of alcoholism and substance abuse problems.
My campaign against malt liquor started when, during the 1980s, many of my student athletes were being influenced by the predatory marketing schemes of alcohol companies. We were overwhelmed with the popularity and easy access of malt liquor. Traditional methods of countering the schemes fell on deaf ears.
B: Some people have called you a conspiracy theorist, several of your ideas regarding the marketing of 40s seeming a bit far-fetched. How do you respond to this & what are your true intentions behind the ideas expressed in the two Message N/A Bottle books?
ACP: In my mind, a conspiracy suggests there are secrets. In reality, there was no secret about what the alcohol companies were doing in communities of poverty and communities of color, particularly toward under aged consumers.
I've been accused of being far-fetched a lot. You can accept my interpretations or not. The point is to get young people to think, to stimulate higher thinking about the decisions they make. My teachings are what I call "teachable moments." Sometimes my students don't agree with my interpretations because they have their own ideas. This is great. I've accomplished part of my task, which is to stimulate critical thinking. Hopefully, this will lead to prevention.
B: Your newest book, Hip Hop Hypocrisy, tackles rap music & its negative impact on the children who listen to it. In what ways do you believe the wrongful promotion & marketing of hip hop correlates to that of malt liquor?
ACP: In HHH we dedicate an entire chapter called "The Intoxication of the Hip Hop Generation" to this issue. The more things change, the more they stay the same. In Message, we showed how hip hop icons were being used to sell malt liquor. In HHH, we show how this marketing strategy, and more, have negatively impacted the values, perceptions, and behaviors of children.
In Message we talked about the fruit-flavored beers that were being illegally promoted to youth. In HHH, we see more of the same with the promotion of fruit-flavored wrapping papers, fruit-flavored cigarettes, fruit-flavored alcohol beverages, candy/sweet themes in the lyrics of rap tunes - all designed to appeal to children. What adults are sitting around, thinking, "Man, I wish I had a strawberry cigarette"?
The investors, players, and target market remain the same.
B: What are your plans for the future, in spreading your messages?
ACP: I'll continue to train middle school and high school students. I'll continue the dialogue with the people who work with them. I'll continue to teach college students who anticipate working with youth in the future. And I'll continue writing about the issues that matter most to the target community.
B: Have you personally ever drank a 40 or a malt liquor? If so, please describe the experience & if it had any influence on you becoming who you are today. If not, what were the influences that kept you away from it?
ACP: Hell no! I've never tasted malt liquor. The devastation that was around me 24/7 among family, friends, and students caused by alcohol and drugs was enough to keep me from using.
B: What's the worst 40 on the market & why?
ACP: I don't know. I studied the predatory marketing schemes targeting youth. That has been my focus.
I'd like to end with this thought: it's true that alcohol companies target youth in other communities - the wealthy, whites, etc. But those communities can afford to get help. You hear all the time about folks going into residential rehab facilities. We don't have those resources in the hood. So I consider myself a voice for the voiceless. I advocate on behalf of communities that are seldom heard where the decisions that affect them are being made.
Coach Powell's links:
Official site: www.acoachpowell.com
Purchase: Hip Hop Hypocrisy
"Message N/A Bottle" (Vol. 1 & 2): firstname.lastname@example.org